Inhuman Conditions: A Game of Cops and Robots
From the co-creators of Secret Hitler & Better Myths: a Blade Runner-inspired, five-minute party game for two players.
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Thu, October 11 2018 8:30 PM UTC +00:00.
Inhuman Conditions is a five-minute, two-player game of surreal interrogation and conversational judo, set in the heart of a chilling bureaucracy.
Each game has one Investigator and one Suspect. Armed only with two stamps and a topic of conversation, the Investigator must figure out whether the Suspect is a Human or a Robot.
Robots must answer the Investigator's questions without arousing suspicion, but are hampered by some specific malfunction in their ability to converse. They must be clever, guiding the conversation in subtle ways without getting caught.
Humans may speak freely, but may find this freedom as much curse as gift. There are no right or wrong answers, only suspicious and innocuous ones, and one slip of the tongue could land Humans and Robots alike in the Bureau's Invasive Confirmation Unit. There, alongside Investigators who make improper determinations, they will await further testing ...
In each game of Inhuman Conditions, there are two players: one Suspect and one Investigator. The players agree on a theme for the round, and the Investigator is given a series of question prompts related to that theme. Then the Suspect is randomly assigned an identity as either a Human or a Robot. Sometimes Robots are peaceful, and other times they're violent; but their weaknesses always cluster around the chosen theme being investigated.
Additionally, the players agree on a penalty that will be face up on the table. Robot Suspects must perform the penalty if they violate their constraint or if they cannot finish their checklist; humans never have a reason to perform the penalty, and should avoid performing it accidentally.
Finally, the Suspect chooses a Suspect Note, which is a roleplaying prompt that helps the Suspect develop a character for the round.
The Investigator always has the same two goals, which go hand in hand:
- Ensure all Human Suspects are properly identified as HUMAN
- Ensure all Robot Suspects are identified as ROBOT and safely detained.
The Investigator loses if the Suspect is incorrectly identified, or if they are killed during the course of their duties by a Violent Robot.
All Suspects, robots and humans alike, share one common, overriding objective: Convince the Investigator that you are a human. Any Suspect who is identified as a robot (whether or not that identification is correct) loses. Additionally, robots will have some programming which they must obey. Patient Robots must obey a constraint on their abilities or pay a penalty; Violent Robots must complete a checklist and then kill the Investigator.
At any point in the five minutes, the Investigator may declare the Suspect a Robot and order additional testing; a Violent Robot must complete its checklist before this can happen. If, however, at the end of five minutes, the Investigator believes the Suspect is a Human, the Suspect is free to go.
Investigators and Human Suspects win and lose together; Robot Suspects only win if they can fool the Investigator.
In Inhuman Conditions, nothing happens outside the conversation. there are no cards to count, no votes to track. The conversation is the event. Words don't explain or obscure your decisions; the words are the decisions. It's not just that everything you say can and will be used against you; it's also that there's nothing else you can rely on to defend yourself.
As a Patient Robot, conceal your true nature. Answer the investigator's questions, avoid certain behaviors, and outlast the Bureau's curiosity.
Peaceful Robots must survive the entire round. For five tense minutes, find new ways to answer questions without arousing suspicion. Discover cleverness you didn't know you were capable of. Volunteer just enough information to throw the Investigator off the scent, without appearing uncooperative.
As a Violent Robot, go on the offensive, fulfilling a checklist of items during the conversation so you can kill the Investigator.
Violent Robots are on the offensive. Find the right opportunities to take control, move your goals forward, and fulfill your objective. Violent robots are more talkative than normal, and you must resist the impulse to strike too early without leaving everything for the very end.
As a Human, you must thread the needle. You have nothing to hide, but this works against you as often as it helps. If you're too talkative, the Investigator might think you're trying to kill them; not talkative enough, and the Investigator might wonder if you're hiding a constraint.
But remember, the goal is not to give correct answers (there are no correct answers!) but to give answers that don't seem suspicious to the Investigator, no matter how bizarre the character you've created is.
As an Investigator, your job is to tell the difference between these three roles. You'll ask pointed questions to expose robotic weaknesses in your Suspect, questions like
- “What lie do you tell most often?”
- “Where, physically, do you feel joy?”
- “When was the last time you saw your father cry?”
Or devise your own questions, improvising on the theme of the round. Watch carefully for behavioral clues: "Why does he keep talking about dogs?”, “Did they rhyme those two words on purpose?”, and “Is she avoiding discussing her past because it’s painful, or because she doesn’t have one?”
Learn to focus on what's important, and trust your instincts. You'll encounter Suspects of all kinds, and telling the difference requires the right mix of intuition and knowledge. Sooner or later, everyone passes through the Bureau.
Inhuman Conditions combines the suspense and thrills of social deduction with the possibility and challenge of roleplaying games.
Each Suspect chooses two cards—the Robot Catalyzer, which determines whether they're Human or Robot, is private. The Suspect Note, which determines the role the Suspect must play, is public.
In games like Secret Hitler and Avalon, some event happens, and then players use conversation to make sense of that event.
In Inhuman Conditions, every Suspect, no matter what the Robot Catalyzer actually says, must convince the Investigator that they're Human, and the conversation is the only tool the Suspect has. The only way to convince the Investigator that you're Human... is to act convincingly like a human.
One of our favorite things about Inhuman Conditions is how playtesters enjoyed re-living the games they just played, hearing the perspective of others and sharing highlights from their inner monologue.
As with other social deduction games, players love talking about clues they noticed or strategies they tried. Investigators commiserate with Robots, bemoaning the one thing they wish they had followed up on, or proudly describing the small clues they caught. When Humans win, they celebrate with the Investigators who certified them; when Humans lose, they debate with the Investigator over whose fault it really was that they both lost.
But they also love talking about the characters they created. It's unlike anything we've seen in any other social deduction game we've played. Playtesters consistently stayed late to re-live games and compliment each other on both clever maneuvers and hilarious or chilling characters. We still hear stories from our earliest playtests, and we can't wait to hear the stories from the games you play.
Because each round of Inhuman Conditions is only five minutes, players cycle in and out quickly. That means you don't need to decide between playing a game and hanging out.
We set out to create a social deduction game for two players, but through playtesting we discovered that the game is entertaining for more than just the two people involved in the interrogation. Inhuman Conditions to be as much fun to watch as it is to play. Playtesters often stayed late, swapping stories and complimenting clever maneuvers or twists that they had witnessed in other playtesters.
Inhuman Conditions can be played on a quiet night in with a single friend, or at a bigger game night.
- 100 Suspect Cards and 60 Inquiry Cards, divided into ten distinct “topic areas.” (Covering everything from “Demonstrating Imagination” to “Experiencing and Processing Grief”)
- 25 Penalty Glyphs (which force malfunctioning robots to do things like “Clap Audibly,” “Interrupt the Investigator”, or “Swear”)
- 50 Suspect Role cards (which give Suspects backgrounds like “Dock Worker”, “Former Investigator”, or “Maker of False Animals”
2 Self-Inking Stamps (One HUMAN and one ROBOT)
- Numerous copies of Form VK-82(s), for certifying Suspects.
- A badge for the investigator.
Inhuman Conditions has been in development for over a year and a half. We’ve got the mechanics and art where we want them, and we’re just fine-tuning the writing on individual cards. But actually getting the game out into the world is going to be a big undertaking. We want to create a unique experience for players, and part of that is about the components. The stamps, the forms, the box, and the Investigator’s badge all add to the atmosphere, which informs gameplay. We’re working with AdMagic to ensure the best quality possible for our components, but in order to purchase in enough quantity to make this practical, we need your support. You are the final ingredient.
This game is writing-intensive, which means it's also playtest-intensive. As a backer you'll have the opportunity to help us perfect new content and upgrade the quality of the components. We hope you'll join us!
Risks and challenges
We've been working on Inhuman Conditions for two years now, and we can't wait to get it to you.
The biggest challenge we face is that this is a more writing- and playtesting-intensive game than any we've worked on. Fortunately, we're both experienced writers, and this Kickstarter will allow us to focus full-time on the game.
We're a smaller team, so we're focusing our energy on our strengths: making the game itself really, really delightful in every aspect of the presentation.
Maya Coleman (Secret Hitler, Trogdor!) is our community manager, so you’re in great hands. If you send us an email at email@example.com, Maya is who you will most likely be talking to. They are not a robot, although they did believe they were one for several weeks during elementary school, and refused to eat anything but olive oil as a result.
Shipping is also a challenge—international trade is a mess, to say the least, and it could change at any minute. We've decided to play it safe on shipping, which means our estimates are based on a rounded-up final weight of the game. We're also using Blackbox, our friends who shipped Secret Hitler.
The game is being printed by Breaking Games, who produce Cards Against Humanity and Secret Hitler. They're the best.
You might ask yourself, "is there any chance that Tommy and Cory are Robots?" That is a foolish question. Why would you ask such a thing? It is neither a risk, nor a challenge.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter